Dec. 1, 2015 02:15 PM

Understanding silage hybrid economics leads to more-informed, profitable decisions

This item has been supplied by a forage marketer and has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hay & Forage Grower.

Market conditions are motivating dairy producers to look closely at their income over feed cost (IOFC) to stay profitable in 2016. However, cutting costs may limit milk production and profit potential. Fine-tuning inputs to maximize milk production can help dairy producers achieve greater returns.

Selecting the right silage corn hybrid can help cows reach their peak milk potential. As the main ingredient in dairy cow diets, a silage corn hybrid can affect dairy profitability by thousands of dollars each year. Trevor Baier, Baier Creek Farms in Durand, Wisconsin, invests in bm3 brown midrib (BMR) corn silage to meet his farm profitability goals.

“With milk in the mid-15s, it’s important to get every pound of milk that we can out of our cows,” Baier says. “With bm3 BMR hybrids, we are seeing a 5-pound increase of milk per cow per day. Even though there is a higher initial investment to plant BMR, the returns far surpass that. We’re putting more money in our pocket by planting BMR.”

Higher fiber digestibility leads to more milk
A recent University of Delaware trial1 compared the effect of hybrid type and dietary proportions on the lactation performance of high-producing dairy cows. The study compared a silage-specific hybrid at a 35 percent inclusion rate, a bm3 BMR hybrid at a 35 percent inclusion rate and a bm3 BMR at a 50 percent inclusion rate. The cows showed a higher milk response when fed the bm3 BMR diets.

When IOFC was calculated for each diet, the 35 percent and 50 percent bm3 BMR diets showed a $0.37 and $0.56 per cow per day advantage, respectively, over the silage-specific hybrid. For a 200-cow dairy, the IOFC advantage realized in the study would result in an additional $34,160 per year.2

This study echoes the positive milk response seen in 20 university lactation trials using bm3 BMR since 1999. Cows fed bm3 BMR have averaged 5.2 pounds more energy-corrected milk (ECM) per cow per day than cows fed other hybrids. Researchers cite higher fiber digestibility as a significant factor. Baier agrees.

“Too often, I hear of dairy producers who are concerned about yield per acre,” Baier says. “The fiber digestibility is what really matters, so we continue to select bm3 BMR hybrids.”

Selecting silage hybrids for greater profitability
Forage quality and yield factors make corn silage hybrid selection a complex and important economic decision. Mike Allen, Ph.D., dairy cattle nutrition professor at Michigan State University, developed CornPicker® as a tool to help dairy producers evaluate a silage corn hybrid’s effect on farm profits. The tool uses a partial budget to help dairy producers better understand their IOFC.

“Selecting corn hybrids for silage production is confus­ing at best,” Dr. Allen says. “However, the initial time it takes to calculate accurate inputs for CornPicker will pay off by identifying hybrids that will maximize profit for your farm.”

Local Mycogen Seeds representatives can help dairy producers use CornPicker to compare silage corn hybrids for their farms.

“The silage hybrids you choose now will affect the farm’s bottom line for the next two years or more,” says Kathleen Emery, DVM, PAS, dairy nutritionist with Mycogen Seeds. “By running a partial budget analysis with tools like CornPicker, we can help you make more-informed, profitable silage hybrid decisions.”

Visit to find your local Mycogen Seeds representative and learn more about bm3 BMR hybrids.

A Mycogen Seeds representative can help estimate silage hybrid profit potential by using the CornPicker® tool.

About Mycogen Seeds
Mycogen Seeds is one of America’s fastest-growing seed companies, offering leading genetics in corn, soybeans, silage corn, sunflowers and canola. A retail seed company of Dow AgroSciences LLC, Mycogen Seeds maintains a robust global research and development program to bring growers high-performance genetics with the latest trait technologies. Working together, the people of Mycogen Seeds help growers find opportunity in every acre. For more information about Mycogen® brand products, visit Follow Mycogen Seeds on Facebook and YouTube.

About Dow AgroSciences
Dow AgroSciences discovers, develops, and brings to market crop protection and plant biotechnology solutions for the growing world. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, Dow AgroSciences is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company and had annual global sales of $7.3 billion in 2014. Learn more at Follow Dow AgroSciences on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.